Accusing Dorna of favouring Spaniards "ridiculous" - Poncharal

Tech 3 Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal discusses the explosive finale to the 2015 MotoGP season - as well as the resulting organisational changes - with Lena Buffa.

With hindsight, do you see things differently from the end of last year?

"No. When you have two riders who are fully involved, investing all their energy and might, finding themselves so close to this Holy Grail, tension obviously rises sharply and continuously. 

"I was at the press conference in Malaysia and I was flabbergasted by what Valentino said. I didn’t think it would go that far, but it ruined the atmosphere of this Malaysian weekend and resulted in what happened during the race.

"If you see the glass as half-empty, it tarnished an image that was good until then – if you see the glass as half-full, the MotoGP audience rocketed, it attracted people who didn’t follow MotoGP.

"Not everything is negative. We had more than 110,000 people at Valencia and we had a nice weekend, with no dirty incident on track or in the pits and grandstands – which was a possibility and many people were afraid of. It turned out quite elegantly, I reckon.

"Lorenzo is not a fake champion. Over the season, he was the fastest rider, even though we know one also needs consistency. Valentino lost the title because of little things.

"Anyway, race laptimes at Valencia show that even had he not started from the back, he would have finished fourth. Now, it’s over.

"There was a merciless battle between Lorenzo and Rossi, and Rossi tried to play a certain psychological war to be sure that Marquez wouldn’t help Lorenzo. But knowing the acrimony between Lorenzo and Marquez, I can’t quite see how Marquez could have wanted Lorenzo to be crowned.

"However, after that incident he didn’t understand at all, maybe Marquez didn’t really want Valentino to be crowned either.

"Marquez is a demon on track, I love watching him – it’s extreme, ultimate attack, just giving his all without thinking too much. If I were a rider, he’s the last one I’d like to have as a rival, because he’s afraid of nothing.

"He found himself in a decisive position [in the Lorenzo/Rossi fight] when he didn’t want to be. He just wanted to do his own race the way he wanted, given that he was mathematically out of contention for the title.

"At Phillip Island, he won and took five points away from Lorenzo, somehow giving them to Rossi. [What Rossi said in the Sepang press conference] surprised everyone. 

"Anyway, the championship was exciting all the way and the only controversial clash was the Sepang one – apart from that, everyone rather well behaved even though some think Marquez did his best not to overtake Lorenzo [at Valencia].

"Obviously, some people like to imagine ‘what would have happened if’, but I think it went well."

There were many excesses off track, notably on social media…

"Thinking there could be a secret deal between Lorenzo and Marquez, honestly, is utterly ludicrous. But you can’t prevent fans from being fans, they’re anything but objective.

"Excesses exist everywhere, in all sports and in the media, in politics… I think Renzi and Rajoy [Prime Ministers in Italy and Spain, respectively] even mentioned it – the fact that politicians want to use it shows that MotoGP is popular. 

"But that’s it, I don’t want to make this more important than it actually is. It’s the result of an incredible battle and an absolute hunger for success from both sides."

From a strictly organisational point of view, do you really think that the changes you voted last week with the Grand Prix Commission can solve the problem?

"One of the things that affected Dorna and Carmelo [Ezpeleta] a lot, and that I find completely stupid and silly, is talking about a “Spanish mafia”.

"On the Internet, people always comment on Carmelo allegedly trying to push Spanish riders forward and on the fact the championship favours them. But it’s ridiculous, it’s the other way round.

"If Carmelo and the Dorna had wanted to influence the situation, we know Rossi winning the championship would have had the biggest marketing impact.

"Some think Dorna is guilty of everything. But at some point, the promoter thinks: ‘Okay, we manage the marketing side of the championship, that’s our job – however, when there are decisions requiring interpretation to be made, we’ll let the race director and two stewards nominated by the FIM make them and we’ll pull out of race control in these cases’. Yes, I think that’s better.

"Now, would the decision made by [race director] Mike Webb and the FIM stewards have been different? I have no idea. From the fans’ perspective, it would have been favourable to either of the riders and they would have cried foul anyway.

"That will not change. Man is fallible – which isn’t a bad thing – but fans are fallible too in their judgement. Complete objectivity does not exist – it would be sad if it did!

"There is passion, there is a human factor. At some point, you don’t think as much and do things you maybe wouldn’t have done in a more normal state.

"When you fight for the goal of your life, you’re so focused on that goal that you do things that you wouldn’t have done, sat on your couch watching TV, but that’s the beauty of sport."

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Jorge Lorenzo , Marc Marquez
Article type Interview
Tags hervé poncharal